Michael Garrison (producer)
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Michael Garrison (19 December 1922 – 17 August 1966) was an American producer and the creator of the television series The Wild Wild West.
Garrison began his career as an actor, and appeared in Robert Sherwood's play There Shall Be No Night in London in 1943. He moved to Hollywood after the war and had bit parts in several 20th Century-Fox films before becoming an associate producer under Jerry Wald. Garrison worked on four Wald pictures, including Peyton Place, The Long Hot Summer, The Sound and the Fury, and An Affair to Remember, before moving to Warner Bros., where he produced The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and Crowded Sky.
In 1954, Garrison and Gregory Ratoff purchased the movie rights to Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, Casino Royale, for $600. CBS bought the TV rights and on October 21, 1954 broadcast an hour-long adaptation on its Climax! series, with Barry Nelson playing American agent ‘Jimmy Bond’ and Peter Lorre playing the villain, Le Chiffre. CBS also approached Fleming about developing Bond as a TV series. In 1955 Ratoff and Garrison bought the rights to the novel in perpetuity for an additional $6,000, and pitched the idea for a motion picture to 20th Century Fox, but were tunred down. After Ratoff died in 1960, his widow and Garrison sold the film rights to Charles K. Feldman for $75,000. Feldman eventually produced the spoof Casino Royale in 1967.
In the mid-1960's, Garrison pitched The Wild Wild West to CBS as "James Bond on horseback" -- linking the television western to the popular spy genre. During its first season, the series had difficulties and CBS rotated nine producers in and out of the show. The network tried to fire Garrison, but he was reinstated at the end of the season. The series was in production on its second season when, while preparing for a party at his new Bel Air home on August 17, 1966, Garrison slipped in some water on a flight of stairs, falling and fatally fracturing his skull. According to Variety, he had three TV shows in development at the time of his death: "The Pickle Brothers," starring Don Rickles; "Happy Valley" for Warner Bros.; and "Kelly's Country."
Garrison was married and divorced from Barbara Silverstone. He was survived by his mother, son and brother.
His mausoleum is in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
- Variety, Aug. 24, 1966
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